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1.  Enhancement of Surface Wettability via the Modification of Microtextured Titanium Implant Surfaces with Polyelectrolytes 
Micrometer- and submicrometer-scale surface roughness enhances osteoblast differentiation on titanium (Ti) substrates and increases bone-to-implant contact in vivo. However, the low surface wettability induced by surface roughness can retard initial interactions with the physiological environment. We examined chemical modifications of Ti surfaces [pretreated (PT), Ra ≥ 0.3 μm; sand blasted/acid etched (SLA), Ra ≥ 3.0 μm] in order to modify surface hydrophilicity. We designed coating layers of polyelectrolytes that did not alter the surface microstructure but increased surface ionic character, including chitosan (CHI), poly(l-glutamic acid) (PGA), and poly(l-lysine) (PLL). Ti disks were cleaned and sterilized. Surface chemical composition, roughness, wettability, and morphology of surfaces before and after polyelectrolyte coating were examined by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), contact mode profilometry, contact angle measurement, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). High-resolution XPS spectra data validated the formation of polyelectrolyte layers on top of the Ti surface. The surface coverage of the polyelectrolyte adsorbed on Ti surfaces was evaluated with the pertinent SEM images and XPS peak intensity as a function of polyelectrolyte adsorption time on the Ti surface. PLL was coated in a uniform thin layer on the PT surface. CHI and PGA were coated evenly on PT, albeit in an incomplete monolayer. CHI, PGA, and PLL were coated on the SLA surface with complete coverage. The selected polyelectrolytes enhanced surface wettability without modifying surface roughness. These chemically modified surfaces on implant devices can contribute to the enhancement of osteoblast differentiation.
PMCID: PMC4287413  PMID: 21513319
2.  The Roles of Titanium Surface Micro/Nanotopography and Wettability on the Differential Response of Human Osteoblast Lineage Cells 
Acta biomaterialia  2012;9(4):6268-6277.
Surface micro and nanostructural modifications of dental and orthopaedic implants have shown promising in vitro, in vivo, and clinical results. Surface wettability has also been suggested to play an important role in osteoblast differentiation and osseointegration. However, the available techniques to measure surface wettability are not reliable on clinically-relevant, rough surfaces. Furthermore, how the differentiation state of osteoblast lineage cells impacts their response to micro/nanostructured surfaces, and the role of wettability on this response, remains unclear. In the current study, surface wettability analyses (optical sessile drop analysis, ESEM analysis, and the Wilhelmy technique) indicated hydrophobic static responses for deposited water droplets on microrough and micro/nanostructured specimens, while hydrophilic responses were observed with dynamic analyses of micro/nanostructured specimens. The maturation and local factor production of human immature osteoblast-like MG63 cells was synergistically influenced by nanostructures superimposed onto microrough titanium (Ti) surfaces. In contrast, human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) cultured on micro/nanostructured surfaces in the absence of exogenous soluble factors, exhibited less robust osteoblastic differentiation and local factor production compared to cultures on unmodified microroughened Ti. Our results support previous observations using Ti6Al4V surfaces showing that recognition of surface nanostructures and subsequent cell response is dependent on the differentiation state of osteoblast lineage cells. The results also indicate that this effect may be partly modulated by surface wettability. These findings support the conclusion that the successful osseointegration of an implant depends on contributions from osteoblast lineage cells at different stages of osteoblast commitment.
PMCID: PMC3618468  PMID: 23232211
commercially pure grade 2 titanium implants; osseointegration; bone; nanostructures; mesenchymal stem cell differentiation; dynamic contact angle
3.  The responses to surface wettability gradients induced by chitosan nanofilms on microtextured titanium mediated by specific integrin receptors 
Biomaterials  2012;33(30):7386-7393.
Microtexture and chemistry of implant surfaces are important variables for modulating cellular responses. Surface chemistry and wettability are connected directly. While each of these surface properties can influence cell response, it is difficult to decouple their specific contributions. To address this problem, the aims of this study were to develop a surface wettability gradient with a specific chemistry without altering micron scale roughness and to investigate the role of surface wettability on osteoblast response. Microtextured sandblasted/acid-etched (SLA, Sa = 3.1 μm) titanium disks were treated with oxygen plasma to increase reactive oxygen density on the surface. At 0, 2, 6, 10, and 24 h after removing them from the plasma, the surfaces were coated with chitosan for 30 min, rinsed and dried. Modified SLA surfaces are denoted as SLA/h in air prior to coating. Surface characterization demonstrated that this process yielded differing wettability (SLA0 < SLA2 < SLA10 < SLA24) without modifying the micron scale features of the surface. Cell number was reduced in a wettability-dependent manner, except for the most water-wettable surface, SLA24. There was no difference in alkaline phosphatase activity with differing wettability. Increased wettability yielded increased osteocalcin and osteoprotegerin production, except on the SLA24 surfaces. mRNA for integrins α1, α2, α5, β1, and β3 was sensitive to surface wettability. However, surface wettability did not affect mRNA levels for integrin α3. Silencing β1 increased cell number with reduced osteocalcin and osteoprotegerin in a wettability-dependent manner. Surface wettability as a primary regulator enhanced osteoblast differentiation, but integrin expression and silencing β1 results indicate that surface wettability regulates osteoblast through differential integrin expression profiles than microtexture does. The results may indicate that both microtexture and wettability with a specific chemistry have important regulatory effects on osseointegration. Each property had different effects, which were mediated by different integrin receptors.
PMCID: PMC3781581  PMID: 22835642
Wettability; Oxygen plasma; Chitosan; Titanium; Osteoblast; Integrin
4.  Use of polyelectrolyte thin films to modulate Osteoblast response to microstructured titanium surfaces 
Biomaterials  2012;33(21):5267-5277.
The microstructure and wettability of titanium (Ti) surfaces directly impact osteoblast differentiation in vitro and in vivo. These surface properties are important variables that control initial interactions of an implant with the physiological environment, potentially affecting osseointegration. The objective of this study was to use polyelectrolyte thin films to investigate how surface chemistry modulates response of human MG63 osteoblast-like cells to surface microstructure. Three polyelectrolytes, chitosan, poly(l-glutamic acid), and poly(l-lysine), were used to coat Ti substrates with two different microtopographies (PT, Sa = 0.37 µm and SLA, Sa = 2.54 µm). The polyelectrolyte coatings significantly increased wettability of PT and SLA without altering micron-scale roughness or morphology of the surface. Enhanced wettability of all coated PT surfaces was correlated with increased cell numbers whereas cell number was reduced on coated SLA surfaces. Alkaline phosphatase specific activity was increased on coated SLA surfaces than on uncoated SLA whereas no differences in enzyme activity were seen on coated PT compared to uncoated PT. Culture on chitosan-coated SLA enhanced osteocalcin and osteoprotegerin production. Integrin expression on smooth surfaces was sensitive to surface chemistry, but microtexture was the dominant variable in modulating integrin expression on SLA. These results suggest that surface wettability achieved using different thin films has a major role in regulating osteoblast response to Ti, but this is dependent on the microtexture of the substrate.
PMCID: PMC3618464  PMID: 22541354
Wettability; Titanium; Surface roughness; Osteoblast
5.  Nonparametric Clustering for Studying RNA Conformations 
The local conformation of RNA molecules is an important factor in determining their catalytic and binding properties. The analysis of such conformations is particularly difficult due to the large number of degrees of freedom, such as the measured torsion angles per residue and the interatomic distances among interacting residues. In this work, we use a nearest-neighbor search method based on the statistical mechanical Potts model to find clusters in the RNA conformational space. The proposed technique is mostly automatic and may be applied to problems, where there is no prior knowledge on the structure of the data space in contrast to many other clustering techniques. Results are reported for both single residue conformations, where the parameter set of the data space includes four to seven torsional angles, and base pair geometries, where the data space is reduced to two dimensions. Moreover, new results are reported for base stacking geometries. For the first two cases, i.e., single residue conformations and base pair geometries, we get a very good match between the results of the proposed clustering method and the known classifications with only few exceptions. For the case of base stacking geometries, we validate our classification with respect to geometrical constraints and describe the content, and the geometry of the new clusters.
PMCID: PMC3679554  PMID: 21173460
RNA conformation; clustering; potts model; statistical mechanics
6.  Polymer Adsorption on Curved Surfaces: A Geometric Approach 
In this article, we have developed a simple model that describes the adsorption of polymer chains from a solution having a good solvent onto a reactive surface of varying curvatures. In order to evaluate the impact of particle size on the adsorption process, we have probed the adsorption of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) on aluminum oxide (Al2O3) surfaces belonging to particles of different sizes. The basic approach assumed that the details of the chemisorption mechanism of PMMA on aluminum oxide surfaces are independent of surface curvature. The combination of the experimental results with the theoretical approach that we have developed show the existence of three different regimes of adsorption of polymer chains onto the surfaces of metal nanoparticles.
PMCID: PMC3663076  PMID: 23710263
7.  Effect of cleaning and sterilization on titanium implant surface properties and cellular response 
Acta biomaterialia  2011;8(5):1966-1975.
Titanium (Ti) has been widely used as an implant material due to the excellent biocompatibility and corrosion resistance of its oxide surface. Biomaterials must be sterile before implantation, but the effects of sterilization on their surface properties have been less well studied. The effects of cleaning and sterilization on surface characteristics were bio-determined using contaminated and pure Ti substrata first manufactured to present two different surface structures: pretreated titanium (PT, Ra = 0.4 μm) (i.e. surfaces that were not modified by sandblasting and/or acid etching); (SLA, Ra = 3.4 μm). Previously cultured cells and associated extracellular matrix were removed from all bio-contaminated specimens by cleaning in a sonicator bath with a sequential acetone–isopropanol–ethanol–distilled water protocol. Cleaned specimens were sterilized with autoclave, gamma irradiation, oxygen plasma, or ultraviolet light. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), contact angle measurements, profilometry, and scanning electron microscopy were used to examine surface chemical components, hydrophilicity, roughness, and morphology, respectively. Small organic molecules present on contaminated Ti surfaces were removed with cleaning. XPS analysis confirmed that surface chemistry was altered by both cleaning and sterilization. Cleaning and sterilization affected hydrophobicity and roughness. These modified surface properties affected osteogenic differentiation of human MG63 osteoblast-like cells. Specifically, autoclaved SLA surfaces lost the characteristic increase in osteoblast differentiation seen on starting SLA surfaces, which was correlated with altered surface wettability and roughness. These data indicated that recleaned and resterilized Ti implant surfaces cannot be considered the same as the first surfaces in terms of surface properties and cell responses. Therefore, the reuse of Ti implants after resterilization may not result in the same tissue responses as found with never-before-implanted specimens.
PMCID: PMC3618465  PMID: 22154860
Titanium; Sterilization; Roughness; Hydrophilicity; MG63 cells
8.  Effects of Structural Properties of Electrospun TiO2 Nano-fiber Meshes on their Osteogenic Potential 
Acta Biomaterialia  2011;8(2):878-885.
Ideal outcomes in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine involve biomaterials that can enhance cell differentiation and production of local factors for natural tissue regeneration without the use of systemic drugs. Biomaterials typically used in tissue engineering applications include polymeric scaffolds that mimic the 3-D structural environment of the native tissue, but these are often functionalized with proteins or small peptides to improve their biological performance. For bone applications, titanium (Ti) implants, or more appropriately the titania (TiO2) passive oxide layer formed on their surface, have been shown to enhance osteoblast differentiation in vitro and to promote osseointegration in vivo. In this study we evaluated the effect on osteoblast differentiation of pure TiO2 nano-fiber meshes with different surface micro-roughness and nano-fiber diameters, prepared by the electrospinning method. MG63 cells were seeded on TiO2 meshes, and cell number, differentiation markers and local factor production were analyzed. The results showed that cells grew throughout the entire surfaces and with similar morphology in all groups. Cell number was sensitive to surface micro-roughness, whereas cell differentiation and local factor production was regulated by both surface roughness and nano-fiber diameter. These results indicate that scaffold structural cues alone can be used to drive cell differentiation and create an osteogenic environment without the use of exogenous factors.
PMCID: PMC3309709  PMID: 22075122
nano structures; electrospinning; scaffold; titanium implant; tissue engineering; bone
9.  Anisotropic conductivity of magnetic carbon nanotubes embedded in epoxy matrices 
Carbon  2011;49(1):54-61.
Maghemite (γ-Fe2O3)/multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) hybrid-materials were synthesized and their anisotropic electrical conductivities as a result of their alignment in a polymer matrix under an external magnetic field were investigated. The tethering of γ-Fe2O3 nanoparticles on the surface of MWCNT was achieved by a modified sol-gel reaction, where sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate (NaDDBS) was used in order to inhibit the formation of a 3D iron oxide gel. These hybrid-materials, specifically, magnetized multi-walled carbon nanotubes (m-MWCNTs) were readily aligned parallel to the direction of a magnetic field even when using a relatively weak magnetic field. The conductivity of the epoxy composites formed in this manner increased with increasing m-MWCNT mass fraction in the polymer matrix. Furthermore, the conductivities parallel to the direction of magnetic field were higher than those in the perpendicular direction, indicating that the alignment of the m-MWCNT contributed to the enhancement of the anisotropic electrical properties of the composites in the direction of alignment.
PMCID: PMC3457806  PMID: 23019381
10.  The effects of combined micron-/submicron-scale surface roughness and nanoscale features on cell proliferation and differentiation 
Biomaterials  2011;32(13):3395-3403.
Titanium (Ti) osseointegration is critical for the success of dental and orthopaedic implants. Previous studies have shown that surface roughness at the micro- and submicro-scales promotes osseointegration by enhancing osteoblast differentiation and local factor production. Only relatively recently have the effects of nanoscale roughness on cell response been considered. The aim of the present study was to develop a simple and scalable surface modification treatment that introduces nanoscale features to the surfaces of Ti substrates without greatly affecting other surface features, and to determine the effects of such superimposed nano-features on the differentiation and local factor production of osteoblasts. A simple oxidation treatment was developed for generating controlled nanoscale topographies on Ti surfaces, while retaining the starting micro-/submicro-scale roughness. Such nano-modified surfaces also possessed similar elemental compositions, and exhibited similar contact angles, as the original surfaces, but possessed a different surface crystal structure. MG63 cells were seeded on machined (PT), nano-modified PT (NMPT), sandblasted/acid-etched (SLA), and nano-modified SLA (NMSLA) Ti disks. The results suggested that the introduction of such nanoscale structures in combination with micro-/submicro-scale roughness improves osteoblast differentiation and local factor production, which, in turn, indicates the potential for improved implant osseointegration in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3350795  PMID: 21310480
(4 to 6) nanotopography; titanium oxide; surface roughness; titanium; bone; implant; osteoblasts
11.  Adsorption of Block Copolymers from Selective Solvents on Curved Surfaces 
Macromolecules  2008;41(9):3190-3198.
We have investigated the adsorption of asymmetric poly(styrene-b-methyl methacrylate) block copolymers (PS–PMMA) from a selective solvent onto alumina (Al2O3) particles having variable and controllable radii. The solvent used was a bad solvent for the PS block (block A) and a good solvent for the PMMA block (block B), which has a higher affinity of the surface. Such a case represents a new class of adsorption, where both blocks compete for the adsorption sites of the metallic surface. Two theoretical models, the modified drops model and the perforated film model, have been evaluated as appropriate representation of such an adsorption scenario. The experimental results indicated that the adsorption of the PS–PMMA block copolymer generated a patterned surface comprised of a homogeneous melt layer of the PS block perforated with holes having a variable PMMA structure, depending on the distance from the bottom of the hole (alumina surface) and the distance from walls of the hole. The density gradient of the PMMA moiety in the hole reverted to the classical brush morphology at a critical distance from the surface of the hole.
PMCID: PMC2957843  PMID: 20976029
12.  Adsorption of Poly(methyl methacrylate) on Concave Al2O3 Surfaces in Nanoporous Membranes 
The objective of this study was to determine the influence of polymer molecular weight and surface curvature on the adsorption of polymers onto concave surfaces. Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) of various molecular weights was adsorbed onto porous aluminum oxide membranes having various pore sizes, ranging from 32 to 220 nm. The surface coverage, expressed as repeat units per unit surface area, was observed to vary linearly with molecular weight for molecular weights below ~120 000 g/mol. The coverage was independent of molecular weight above this critical molar mass, as was previously reported for the adsorption of PMMA on convex surfaces. Furthermore, the coverage varied linearly with pore size. A theoretical model was developed to describe curvature-dependent adsorption by considering the density gradient that exists between the surface and the edge of the adsorption layer. According to this model, the density gradient of the adsorbed polymer segments scales inversely with particle size, while the total coverage scales linearly with particle size, in good agreement with experiment. These results show that the details of the adsorption of polymers onto concave surfaces with cylindrical geometries can be used to calculate molecular weight (below a critical molecular weight) if pore size is known. Conversely, pore size can also be determined with similar adsorption experiments. Most significantly, for polymers above a critical molecular weight, the precise molecular weight need not be known in order to determine pore size. Moreover, the adsorption developed and validated in this work can be used to predict coverage also onto surfaces with different geometries.
PMCID: PMC2791359  PMID: 19415910
13.  Trajectory control of PbSe–γ-Fe2O3 nanoplatforms under viscous flow and an external magnetic field 
Nanotechnology  2010;21(17):175702.
The flow behavior of nanostructure clusters, consisting of chemically bonded PbSe quantum dots and magnetic γ -Fe2O3 nanoparticles, has been investigated. The clusters are regarded as model nanoplatforms with multiple functionalities, where the γ -Fe2O3 magnets serve as transport vehicles, manipulated by an external magnetic field gradient, and the quantum dots act as fluorescence tags within an optical window in the near-infrared regime. The clusters’ flow was characterized by visualizing their trajectories within a viscous fluid (mimicking a blood stream), using an optical imaging method, while the trajectory pictures were analyzed by a specially developed processing package. The trajectories were examined under various flow rates, viscosities and applied magnetic field strengths. The results revealed a control of the trajectories even at low magnetic fields (<1 T), validating the use of similar nanoplatforms as active targeting constituents in personalized medicine.
PMCID: PMC2882682  PMID: 20368678
14.  Scaling Aspects of Block Co-Polymer Adsorption on Curved Surfaces from Nonselective Solvents 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2008;112(17):5317-5326.
In this paper, we have developed a geometric-based scaling model that describes the adsorption of diblock copolymer chains from good solvents and θ-solvents onto reactive surfaces of varying curvatures. To evaluate the impact of particle size on the adsorption process, we probed the adsorption of poly(styrene-bmethymethacrylate) (PS-PMMA) diblock copolymers from solvents with different degrees of selectivity on aluminum oxide (Al2O3) surfaces belonging to particles of different sizes. When the adsorbed PMMA layer is dense enough (in the case of a θ-solvent for the PMMA block), our results show good correlation between the theory and experimental results, pointing to the formation of a PMMA adsorption layer and a brushlike PS layer. Conversely, when adsorption occurs from a nonpreferential solvent, particularly on particles with high curvature, the PMMA adsorption layer at the surface becomes less dense and the grafted PS moiety exhibits a transitional morphology consisting of several layers of increasingly sparsely spaced blobs.
PMCID: PMC2791366  PMID: 18399678

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